Follower of Jesus or not, conflict is something you will face in your life. In some seasons you may experience it daily, in others it may be few and far between. But what is definitely true is that you will face conflict in our duty to share the gospel. The enemy is ripe with conflict, using every opportunity to stir up trouble in the Church, to create rifts between believers.
Sometimes, we let him win. We’re only human. We mess up. Our human desires lead us to conflict - to the need of being in the right. The conflict that resides within us on a daily basis between the battle of the flesh and of the holy is what stirs up the conflicts within the body of Christ. As it says in James 4:1-2:
“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.”
So, we know conflict exists. We know worldly conflict happens every day because of our desires. But how do we deal with it? Especially with our brothers and sisters in Christ?
Let me share with you a bit of testimony, one that I hope will encourage you. Myself and a couple of friends from Bible College recently started a podcast (shameless plug) where we talk about all things from food, life and faith. We really felt like God was taking us down a route where we could work together and introduce people to Jesus through our lives. But, I’d be lying if I said we weren’t faced with any conflict. Within our friendship but also from fellow believers.
It was a difficult few weeks as we were in the high moments of seeing God work through this, but also in the low moments experiencing trials from our brothers and sisters. It was safe to say that we began to get bitter and I personally got a bit upset and downtrodden. We were going in circles, until we decided to do what the Bible tells you to do among believers - we decided to talk but mostly, listen.
By simply opening up dialogue for a conversation, we were able to listen to how our actions affect others because even if we didn’t intend it, it doesn’t stop someone feeling pain. It was a long conversation and at times awkward - but we wanted to point towards Jesus and at the end stand shoulder to shoulder as brothers and sisters in Him.
So, what is there to take from this?
To approach conflict you need to be prepared to do the following:
Listen - even though you may not have set out to hurt someone, the pain of people is still present.
Ask - what’s the end goal here? What does everyone want in resolution?
Conviction - Do you feel convicted by the Holy Spirit to be doing what you are doing? Do you need to stand your ground?
Point to God - end any conflict if possible not necessarily on perfect terms, but ensure that you continue to worship him because no matter your conflict - He is so much more.